CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The newly-appointed top man at the West Virginia Division of Forestry is no stranger to anybody in the agency.
Jeremy Jones, a 20-year veteran forester, started out at the entry level of the agency and has worked his way to the top. Gov. Jim Justice named him state forester earlier this month.
“When I got hired on with the division at the field level it was not something that I aspired to do, but as my career went on I was always wanting to challenge myself and I look at this as the next challenge,” Jones told MetroNews.
Jones most recently served as the assistant state forester for fire. He’ll continue in that role for a brief period as they look for a replacement. Since he’s worked his way up through the ranks he knows pretty much everybody in the agency. Jones believed that’s an asset which most directors don’t enjoy when they take the job.
“I think I’ve got at least some rapport with everybody in the agency, which is a unique situation. Directors in the past have come in without that rapport, so I’m starting out just a little bit ahead,” he said.
Like most state agencies, filling vacancies is the top priority for Jones. He said while they’ve had some success hiring some new people, there are still a wide number of vacancies. They still need more people and better equipment. He aims to tackle those two tasks as his first order of business in the position.
Jones worried part of the reason they were having a hard time filling positions which are already funded was a lack of anybody available to fill them. He planned to work with the state’s two forestry programs at WVU and Glenville State to find ways to encourage young people to consider careers in forestry and wildlife positions.
“Natural Resources positions, there’s just not that many kids going to school for those degrees. That’s something I want to start doing from day one to work with the schools and try to figure out how to get better recruitment and get more kids interested in those positions,” he said.
Jones believed the recruiting effort would not only help his agency, but also DNR which often struggles to find qualified candidates for vacancies in professional positions.
“I hope to start day one to get recruitment up and get more forestry students,” he said.